Winged Sphinx with lioness head

59.148.79

About this object

Sculpture of a winged animal which is likely to be a sphinx because of its frontal pose and winged body although the head is of a lioness. This is an anomaly in the representation of a sphinx with the lioness head, the head is attached to the body and is therefore not an inaccurate restoration. The sculpture may be an ancient and unique ancient example but it's difficult to prove without knowning the excavation context. It is therefore more possibly that the sculpture is a pastiche of ancient and modern elements. The lion's face is similar to heads from Roman tables with the broad nose, the open mouth and the receding forehead and the simplified mane of flame shaped curls and that the 18th century restorer tried to create a sphinx and Bartman suggested the assemblage made by Piranesi in the Stockholn National Museum. Water damage on the mouth may suggest that the head of the Ince piece belonged to an ancient fountain ornament and there is also a deep round channel carved into the mouth.

Restored are the upper back, much of the tail, the left wing, upper half of right wing, right front leg, left knee and lower jaw. The muzzle that was missing was originally pinned. The plinth is broken and rests on a modern mount. There is deep round channel carved into the mouth and this may indicate that it was converted into a fountain and this would also explain the weathering of the face.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Art
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    18th Century
  • Materials
    Marble
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    595 mm x 460 mm
  • Note
    Bought from the Villa Borioni. Bartman comments: a similar example can be found in a sculptural assemblage made by Piranesi with two similar crouched winged felines flanking a stack of carved objects. A deliberate attempt by a restorer to enhance the antiquity of the piece. Water damage on the mouth may suggest that the head belonged to an ancient fountain ornament.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell (Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Col Sir Weld (Previous owner)

Where is this object from?

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Publications

  • A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Ince Blundell Hall

    Ashmole, Bernard

    Author: Ashmole, Bernard
    Publisher: Clarendon Press
    Date: 1929
    Description: An illustrated catalogue of the ancient sculptures collected by Henry Blundell and formerly at Ince Blundell Hall.

  • An Account of the Statues, Busts, Bass Relieves, Cinerary Urns, and other ancient marbles, and paintings at Ince. Collected by H.B.

    Blundell, Henry

    Author: Blundell, Henry
    Publisher:
    Date: 1803
    Description:

  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882
    Description:

  • The Ince Blundell collection of classical sculpture Volume III-The ideal sculpture

    Bartman, Elizabeth

    Author: Bartman, Elizabeth
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2017
    Description:

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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